Since the exit poll announced the likely outcome of the general election on Thursday night, we all spent the night and early hours Googling ‘hung parliament’ in readiness for our new reality when we woke up on Friday.
Very few really saw this coming, perhaps those of us that are active on social media or with older teenage children, might have suspected an upset, but the papers certainly weren’t talking about it with any real conviction.
Whatever your politics, there’s no doubt that Theresa’s had a shocker and Jezza’s played a blinder.
By the time you read this the outcome is likely to be more certain, but as I write, Theresa May is forming a minority government with the support of her “new friends” in the DUP and a third recount for the Kensington seat has been delayed due to teller tiredness.
Impact on education
At the end of the day, what this probably means is that many of the Conservative manifesto pledges and promises will get through Parliament largely unchanged – but don’t hold me to that. The DUP are not in favour of continued austerity and so, happily, at least the Conservative promise of increased overall funding for schools is likely to be high on any agenda.
Waking up on Friday morning, it was very clear what the country thinks of austerity and hard Brexit. The Conservatives have struggled to get further funding cuts through Parliament in the last two years with their previously small majority, so being a minority government with help from the DUP is only likely to exacerbate this struggle for the Conservatives, whilst providing some relief for education.
This may also mean that the promised free breakfasts for all primary school children, which analysts calculated were massively under-costed by at least £120 million, is fully funded. It also seems likely that plans for more selective school places will get through, given that Northern Ireland already has a largely selective secondary school system.
Top job at the DfE
New governments always bring new cabinets, so much will depend on who gets the education top job. Michael Gove has been hotly tipped for a return to government, but don’t hyperventilate, he has not been linked with education. Justine Greening held her Putney seat – just – so she is available but her lukewarm defence of grammar schools caused the rumours to circulate before the election that she would be for the chop. Ex-grammar school pupil Dominic Raab was previously tipped for Education Secretary, but there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.
It’s too early to tell the full impact that the election, and the political plays of the coming weeks, will have on the education landscape. We will continue to provide commentary and best practice for schools as policy develops.
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